10 After Abimelech, Tola son of Puah, son of Dodo became judge and began to deliver Israel. He was from Issachar and lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. 2 Tola judged Israel twenty-three years and when he died, was buried in Shamir.3 After him came Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel twenty-two years. 4 He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys. They had thirty towns[a] in Gilead, which are still called Jair’s Villages[b] today. 5 When Jair died, he was buried in Kamon.
Israel’s Rebellion and Repentance
6 Then the Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They worshiped the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Aram, Sidon, and Moab, and the gods of the Ammonites and the Philistines. They abandoned the Lord and did not worship him. 7 So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and he sold them to[c] the Philistines and the Ammonites. 8 They shattered and crushed the Israelites that year, and for eighteen years they did the same to all the Israelites who were on the other side of the Jordan in the land of the Amorites in Gilead. 9 The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin, and the house of Ephraim. Israel was greatly oppressed, 10 so they cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against you. We have abandoned our God and worshiped the Baals.”11 The Lord said to the Israelites, “When the Egyptians, Amorites, Ammonites, Philistines, 12 Sidonians, Amalekites, and Maonites[d] oppressed you, and you cried out to me, did I not deliver you from them? 13 But you have abandoned me and worshiped other gods. Therefore, I will not deliver you again. 14 Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them deliver you whenever you are oppressed.”15 But the Israelites said, “We have sinned. Deal with us as you see fit;[e] only rescue us today!” 16 So they got rid of the foreign gods among them and worshiped the Lord, and he became weary of Israel’s misery.17 The Ammonites were called together, and they camped in Gilead. So the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah. 18 The rulers[f] of Gilead said to one another, “Which man will begin the fight against the Ammonites? He will be the leader of all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
Jephthah Becomes Israel’s Leader
11 Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute, and Gilead was his father. 2 Gilead’s wife bore him sons, and when they grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You will have no inheritance in our father’s family, because you are the son of another woman.” 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Then some worthless men joined Jephthah and went on raids with him.4 Some time later, the Ammonites fought against Israel. 5 When the Ammonites made war with Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 They said to him, “Come, be our commander, and let’s fight the Ammonites.”7 Jephthah replied to the elders of Gilead, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me out of my father’s family? Why then have you come to me now when you’re in trouble?”8 They answered Jephthah, “That’s true. But now we turn to you. Come with us, fight the Ammonites, and you will become leader of all the inhabitants of Gilead.”9 So Jephthah said to them, “If you are bringing me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me, I will be your leader.”10 The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord is our witness if we don’t do as you say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead. The people made him their leader and commander, and Jephthah repeated all his terms in the presence of the Lord at Mizpah.
Jephthah Rejects Ammonite Claims
12 Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites, asking, “What do you have against me that you have come to fight me in my land?”13 The king of the Ammonites said to Jephthah’s messengers, “When Israel came from Egypt, they seized my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok and the Jordan. Now restore it peaceably.”14 Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites 15 to tell him, “This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. 16 But when they came from Egypt, Israel traveled through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. 17 Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please let us travel through your land,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They also sent messengers to the king of Moab, but he refused. So Israel stayed in Kadesh.18 “Then they traveled through the wilderness and around the lands of Edom and Moab. They came to the east side of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon but did not enter into the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the boundary of Moab.19 “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon. Israel said to him, ‘Please let us travel through your land to our country,’ 20 but Sihon would not trust Israel to pass through his territory. Instead, Sihon gathered all his troops, camped at Jahaz, and fought with Israel. 21 Then the Lord God of Israel handed over Sihon and all his troops to Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession of the entire land of the Amorites who lived in that country. 22 They took possession of all the territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan.23 “The Lord God of Israel has now driven out the Amorites before his people Israel, and will you now force us out? 24 Isn’t it true that you can have whatever your god Chemosh conquers for you, and we can have whatever the Lord our God conquers for us? 25 Now are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever contend with Israel or fight against them? 26 While Israel lived three hundred years in Heshbon and Aroer and their surrounding villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, why didn’t you take them back at that time? 27 I have not sinned against you, but you are doing me wrong by fighting against me. Let the Lord who is the judge decide today between the Israelites and the Ammonites.” 28 But the king of the Ammonites would not listen to Jephthah’s message that he sent him.
Jephthah’s Vow and Sacrifice
29 The Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah, who traveled through Gilead and Manasseh, and then through Mizpah of Gilead. He crossed over to the Ammonites from Mizpah of Gilead. 30 Jephthah made this vow to the Lord: “If you in fact hand over the Ammonites to me, 31 whoever comes out the doors of my house to greet me when I return safely from the Ammonites will belong to the Lord, and I will offer that person as a burnt offering.”32 Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the Lord handed them over to him. 33 He defeated twenty of their cities with a great slaughter from Aroer all the way to the entrance of Minnith and to Abel-keramim. So the Ammonites were subdued before the Israelites.34 When Jephthah went to his home in Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with tambourines and dancing! She was his only child; he had no other son or daughter besides her. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “No! Not my daughter! You have devastated me! You have brought great misery on me.[g] I have given my word to the Lord and cannot take it back.”36 Then she said to him, “My father, you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me as you have said, for the Lord brought vengeance on your enemies, the Ammonites.” 37 She also said to her father, “Let me do this one thing: Let me wander two months through the mountains with my friends and mourn my virginity.”38 “Go,” he said. And he sent her away two months. So she left with her friends and mourned her virginity as she wandered through the mountains. 39 At the end of two months, she returned to her father, and he kept the vow he had made about her. And she had never been intimate with a man. Now it became a custom in Israel 40 that four days each year the young women of Israel would commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.
Conflict with Ephraim
12 The men of Ephraim were called together and crossed the Jordan to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why have you crossed over to fight against the Ammonites but didn’t call us to go with you? We will burn your house with you in it!”2 Then Jephthah said to them, “My people and I had a bitter conflict with the Ammonites. So I called for you, but you didn’t deliver me from their power. 3 When I saw that you weren’t going to deliver me, I took my life in my own hands and crossed over to the Ammonites, and the Lord handed them over to me. Why then have you come today to fight against me?”4 Then Jephthah gathered all of the men of Gilead. They fought and defeated Ephraim, because Ephraim had said, “You Gileadites are Ephraimite fugitives in the territories of Ephraim and Manasseh.” 5 The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim. Whenever a fugitive from Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the Gileadites asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he answered, “No,” 6 they told him, “Please say Shibboleth.” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce it correctly, they seized him and executed him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time forty-two thousand from Ephraim died.7 Jephthah judged Israel six years, and when he died, he was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.[h]
Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon
8 Ibzan, who was from Bethlehem, judged Israel after Jephthah 9 and had thirty sons. He gave his thirty daughters in marriage to men outside the tribe and brought back thirty wives for his sons from outside the tribe. Ibzan judged Israel seven years, 10 and when he died, he was buried in Bethlehem.11 Elon, who was from Zebulun, judged Israel after Ibzan. He judged Israel ten years, 12 and when he died, he was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.13 After Elon, Abdon son of Hillel, who was from Pirathon, judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. Abdon judged Israel eight years, 15 and when he died, he was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.
Have you ever made a deal with God on a whim? “God, if you will _____, I promise I will _____” and not even think about the implications of that promise? That’s what Jephthah did. He made a dumb promise to God that he should have given more thought into. What we see from this is that Jephthah didn’t know much about God, not even enough to know that human sacrifice was abominable in God’s eyes, yet he made a deal that was foolish. Then he followed through with it when he should have repented and called upon the mercy and grace of God, did i mention he didn’t know much about God? Let’s not follow Jepthaha’s footsteps. Lets learn about who God is and what he desires for us in reading His word.